I worked with a guy who everytime I got my hair cut, told me it was, ‘ a real mammy hair cut.’ It really, really pissed me off.
It was just so obviously not a compliment.
‘Its not a mammy hair cut, I wanted to shout back at him, it’s an edgy bob dammit!!’
When really what I should have said was, ‘ I know, right?! Thanks!’
He was a misogynist for saying it, and I was, too, for being so insulted.
I was suffering from ‘cool mom’ syndrome, an off shoot of ‘cool girl’ syndrome. You’re suffering from cool mom syndrome if you think that you’re not like other moms – you have an edgy hair cut and tattoos. You don’t wear mom jeans and crocs. You stay at home, but you don’t bake and hang out at the school gate.
You’re not like other moms, and you want the world to know, because you’ve internalised the misogynistic view point that being a mother is trivial. That once you become a mother, that is all you are. That mothers are a homogenous group of playdates and nappy bags.
That you cannot be a mother and be everything you once were and everything you might possibly be.
Misogyny means that a woman who is a mother, is only a mother, but a man who is a father is still a man. It means that motherhood can simultaneously be deified and trivialised, anything but real and complex.
Don’t be hard on yourself, cool mom, this message is pervasive. So pervasive in fact that even websites aimed at mothers won’t use the word mother. This is the tag line of one parenting website,
“for women who happen to be parents”
Eh, mothers you mean.
I’ve heard women, mothers, say they steer clear of anything with mother or mum in the title. I’ve seen women, mothers, on Twitter saying they didn’t use a certain very popular parenting website any more because they didn’t like their identity being pinned down as only that one thing.
I think it’s sad that women can’t own their motherhood without feeling like it somehow detracts from other aspects of their identity.
I think its sad, but I also think it’s understandable.
You become a mother, you don’t want to lose your identity. You read so much about how this happens. You’ve been surrounded by rhetoric telling you you can have it all. You shouldn’t leave your job to stay at home. You’re more interesting than sleep routines and weaning and growth spurts and school runs and headlice.
(You are. You are reading, and thinking , and working, and creating, and writing. You are literature and art and movies and gigs and poetry. You are TV and shopping and cafes and clothes.)
Claiming your motherhood is complex in a society where women are often reduced to their ability, or otherwise, to reproduce. The answer, I think, is not to be ashamed of your motherhood, but to show it in all its overwhelming joy and tedious mundanity.
You are like other moms, and they are like you.
(Disclaimer: I would normally say mam, not mom, but it just doesn’t have the same effect.)